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What did you win? ~ What didn’t I?

do what you loveYah, last year I jumped on the speeding wagon of NaNoWriMo and fell off almost immediately.

This year I won. I won!!!

What did you win?

I actually completed the first draft of my novel. Which leaves me with over 200 pages of crap to edit during the next few months.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’m going to be the next J.K. Rowling. But I do think I’ll be a hell of a lot more interesting, joyful and fulfilled than a lot of people my age who have no other hobbies than gossiping, bitching and the occasional hangover.

Hobbies, interests, and stepping out into the world to be exposed to new ideas and different people helps to make us better people, or at the very least more engaged.  Apathy after all is really not just the biggest sin against humanity, but it’s boring as hell. I daresay it’s even found lingering as the cord that connects the seven deadliest of sins.

So I met the goal of NaNoWriMo, got out to meet other writers in my community, and managed to inspire myself to think more intensely about the art and craft of storytelling. Which in turn turned me toward book reviews, essays and text books. And of course that led me to reading  new books, articles and interviews by authors of very different ilks.

The win of NaNoWriMo is not simply the word count or the first draft, it’s actually keeping people engaged with a world bigger than just themselves.  A world that ever more seems to be frightening, contentious and less likely to change just because we care.

If you’re not a writer, this definitely won’t be your thing, but you may find it via a few words on the page. If not, I beg of you to find it somewhere. Find something that makes you happy, interact with other people even more knowledgeable and passionate as you are, and  make a difference in your little corner of the planet. Create your pocket of joy and goodness so that it spreads and connects to another. The world will thank you.

 

 

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Monday; When OK is Excellent

It's the little things..
It’s the little things..

Too often people hope for big successes, you know, spectacular romance, an enviable job with an outrageously generous salary or  luxe stuff.

Most days I’m just really glad I wasn’t killed during rush-hour traffic, that I manage to get through a day without losing my patience or crying in public.  I’m also pretty proud of myself when I have time to pee during the work day (that in itself is a small miracle), and find that I have neither put my panties on inside out, nor backward.

What I’m trying to say my darlings, is that life is a series of small victories day-after-day, hour-by-precious-hour that we completely take for granted.

At a function this evening, a woman whom I met years ago during a post-grad course asked how my book was coming along. Not in the nose-turned-to-ceiling way that people who are too scared and uptight to express their creative spirit might ask while holding a cocktail wienie in one hand and the latest douchey cocktail in the other. No, she asked it in a kind way, genuinely interested in what I was working on. We discussed her young child, and the joys of parenting.

Surrounding myself with good people whom I call friends and acquaintances is much more a victory than a brand new car, a two-carat statement of love, or mortgage I can’t really afford.

Re-connecting with this wonderful person, was one of the things that were OK today. As were;

  1. Getting to an appointment on time.
  2. Having time to listen to a much-adored  high-school chum unload relationship el-poopo.
  3. Eating one of the first fresh apples of the season
  4. Not getting a run in my pantyhose.
  5. Hot, fresh coffee at 2:00 p.m.
  6. Happy hour under twinkle lights on our little patio after a long, long day.
  7. Talking to my sweetheart.
  8. Having time to be silly with my friends on social media.
  9. Concocting a new recipe and having success!
  10. Not crying in public.

Wishing you a day of things that are ok, because ok is what makes a life. Ok can be excellent if you allow it.

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Speaking With a Writer: How Not to Lose Your Mind

writersbrainYou avoid direct questions,” he said as he fumbled with something or other before we tucked in for the evening.

“Damn it, he sees me and he knows me, and he’s going right for the jugular, I thought, “That’s good. How very refreshing.”

I smiled, knowing all was finally  right with the world.

I don’t  avoid direct questions per se, but it takes me a while to mull them over. So far, no one has caught me at it, or at the very least, had the balls to call me out on it.

I’m a writer, and we tell stories. We subscribe to the old way of thinking, and believing that we are a culmination of all of the stories of our ancestors and all of their ancestors, and before that, the moon and the stars and the silent, mysterious breath of creation.

Writing came second to cave drawings, the first primordial expression of the human spirit.

I’m a writer who visualizes my thoughts, words and characters in my head. I make sense of issues by painting pictures of images which touch the deeper meaning of language and cut to the quick of our universal soul, despite my love of profanity and preference for clarity with regard to all things prefunctory.

It’s quite a process really, and it takes a damn long time to create the image, and then go back and pack it neatly into a package of language.

I don’t avoid direct questions. I just avoid answering them right away, because often direct questions are asked at critical crossroads, and at critical moments. I believe that we instinctively know what we need to do at these times. Overthinking really just mucks it all up.

Instinct rules in the moment. You may not consider it the right intellectual or emotional tool  for the long-term, but in the moment it often works best, and I’m ok with that. If you’re ok in the moment, you’ve got a firm foundation from which to navigate. That’s more than most folks, and a beautifully secure place to begin any journey.

Sometimes you know where you want to go, and it’s all smooth sailing. Sometimes you also know that conditions may not be just right. That means you change course, enjoy the view, and make discoveries at the mercy of the breeze. Why waste energy fighting it when you have so much to learn? Besides, you know want you want and where you’re going. Be a lover not a fighter darlings, it’s better for your skin.

When it comes to communicating with me, with a writer, with someone who entertains and quite enjoys having a Willy-Wonka mind,  it must be frustrating, fascinating and inspiration for many WTF’s. I would offer apologies, but I’m not sorry. I like who I am.

If you or your conversation is not significant to me, I’m direct, concise and clear with my language.

If you are part of my heart, if your very existence resonates in my bones, and my soul smiles when I think of you, let’s just put it this way; you’re gonna have to take a seat, order a nice, slow cocktail and settle in for the duration. Hell, order one for me while you’re at it. My thoughts will reveal themselves to you, me, and us, after a long slow unfolding on the canvas.

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Poetry of Life

laughatoddsThere’s nothing like poetry to raise a mirror to the quality of your life.

I know when certain things are neglected in my life, that I’m prioritizing all wrong.

Sure I have to work hard, do my job, cook and be a mother, but I don’t have to give up the things that make my  life poetic.

My bath time has always been sacred. It sounds silly, but it’s a ritual before I write, make love, or prepare for any significant event.

There is ritual about this time for me. I light candles. I listen to music with lyrics by Leonard Cohen, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan and a plethora of other songwriters. I pour a glass of wine and have it within arms reach. I line up my soap, my razor, my cloth and loffah.

By candlelight I soak in the hot water, and let the music and lyrics penetrate the hard thoughts that have been pulsing through my  brain throughout the day.

Language is a  construct of logic. That’s why it’s often difficult to express emotion. Emotion defies logic.

Poetry  seeps into that space between our physical selves and our human spirit. Poetry, with its similes and metaphors is as close as we can possibly come to expressing everything about ourselves that is emotional.

Since it seems our ability to express our emotion is basically all that separates us from apes, our poetic ability is pretty important.

Whenever my life has lacked poetry, time for creativity, or the exquisite indulgence of friendship, wine and  blissfully rambling conversation, I have suffered.

…Now you can say that I’ve grown bitter, but of this you may be sure

The rich have got their channels in the bedrooms of the poor

And there’s a mighty judgment coming, but I may be wrong…

(Lyrics from Leonard Cohen’s Tower of Song)

When my ritual gets lost, so does the time I dedicate to my creativity. For me it is writing, for others it’s painting, cooking, music or any other creative act. Hell, if it’s good, lovemaking is a pretty intense creative endeavor.

If your ritual to make creative space has gone by the wayside, or if you’ve never had one of those rituals, consider this;

Imagine, bringing a fresh, soft-ripe peach to your lips, and having the juice drip between your fingers and over your lips. You can’t help but savour the sweetness and that taste of  fresh peach that you just can’t have any other time of year.

Now imagine biting that same peach, with the same juice covering your fingers, but you can’t taste anything. Your mouth is wet and full of the tender flesh, but there is no sweetness, there is no hint of that precious and rare flavour that you crave.

That my darlings is life without poetry.

Life with poetry becomes vibrant and joyful;

…And I’ll dance with you in Vienna
I’ll be wearing a river’s disguise
The hyacinth wild on my shoulder
My mouth on the dew of your thighs
And I’ll bury my soul in a scrapbook
With the photographs there, and the moss
And I’ll yield to the flood of your beauty
My cheap violin and my cross…

( Lyrics from Leonard Cohen’s Take This Waltz)

Life without poetry is like bringing home a dry, flavourless peach harvested green half-way around the world in February. It’s just not the same. It’s not juicy. it’s not sweet.  It leaves you feeling like there must be something more.

When life lacks poetry you find it incredibly tedious to prepare and dress for your lovers, until you’re finally left only with partners who satisfy a base desire and you’re relieved to see them leave.

When life lacks poetry there is no beacon of hope left to guide you toward your heart’s desire. You are trapped by habit and fear change.

When life lacks poetry you are not in the present moment. You are either living in the future, or dwelling in the past.

Whatever it is that ignites your spirit is your poetry.  Make time for it. Go after it. Remember what it means to live fully within your humanity.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in

You can add up the parts, you won’t have the sum
You can strike up the march, there is no drum
Every heart, every heart to love will come
But like a refugee

(Lyrics by Leonard Cohen; Anthem)